PNB fraud case: Govt to auction rare art belonging to Nirav Modi; MF Husain's work among assets to come under hammer

Indian tax authorities raised about $8 million in an auction conducted last year by Saffronart of rare oil paintings that were seized from Modi.

Reuters January 22, 2020 11:47:10 IST
PNB fraud case: Govt to auction rare art belonging to Nirav Modi; MF Husain's work among assets to come under hammer
  • The highlight of Saffronart’s auction of Modi's assets will be Boy with Lemon by Hungarian-Indian modernist artist Amrita Sher-Gil valued at Rs 12-18 crore

  • Also on the block will be luxury wristwatches from Jaeger Lecoultre and Gerrard Perregaux, several Birkin and Kelly luxury handbags from Hermès and two luxury cars

  • Assessing the value of some assets is underway and it will be know by next week how much it can be expected to raise from the auction.

Mumbai: The seized assets of Indian diamond magnate Nirav Modi, arrested in Britain last year over fraud allegations, will be auctioned within the next two months, the Mumbai-based Saffronart auctioneers said on Tuesday.

The auction, sanctioned by a court order, is part of efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to sell assets confiscated in criminal cases with the proceeds used to shore up banks struggling with piles of bad debt.

Modi, a billionaire jeweller in his late forties whose diamonds have adorned Hollywood stars such as Kate Winslet and Dakota Johnson, was arrested over allegations of his involvement in a $2 billion fraud at state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB). He has denied the charges and is opposing efforts to extradite him from Britain to India.

PNB fraud case Govt to auction rare art belonging to Nirav Modi MF Husains work among assets to come under hammer

File image of Nirav Modi. News18

Highlighting Saffronart’s auction of Modi’s assets - seized by India’s financial crime-fighting agency, will be “Boy with Lemon” by pioneering Hungarian-Indian modernist artist Amrita Sher-Gil valued at Rs 12-18 crore ($1.69-$2.53 million).

Other paintings to be sold will include an oil on canvas by India’s best-known painter MF Husain of similar value, and a work worth Rs 7-9 crore by modernist VS Gaitonde.

Also on the block will be luxury wristwatches from Jaeger Lecoultre and Gerrard Perregaux, several Birkin and Kelly luxury handbags from Hermès and two cars - a Porsche Panamera and a Rolls Royce Ghost, a Saffronart statement said.

It said it was assessing the value of some assets and would say next week how much it expected to raise from the auction.

Indian tax authorities raised about $8 million in an auction conducted last year by Saffronart of rare oil paintings that were seized from Modi.

The pending auction, however, will be the first time India’s financial crimes agency has appointed a professional auction house to sell off seized assets, according to Saffronart.

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